What is a Brand

Robert Brunner was director of industrial design at Apple and also a partner at Pentagram. While at Apple and worked on numerous products including the original PowerBook. In 2007, he started Ammunition group, a San Francisco-based design house, which helped design products for companies like Square. 

He was also the chief design officer of Beats Audio, that little headphone company Apple bought for $3.2 billion earlier this year. Brunner was one of the keynote speakers at True Ventures’ True University event where he talked about multiple topics. Here are some standouts from his talk:

  • Relationship between companies and it’s constituents happens through things and how those things make you feel.
  • Design is the interface to the outside world.
  • You don’t own your brand. Brand isn’t your logo. It is not your product, packaging or retail presence. Brand is a feeling. It is what they think, feel about your company. It is something that resonates with people.
  • It’s the idea, not the object. The broader idea of what a phone means to you is really the iPhone.
  • Technology enables, but design establishes.
  • Harley Davidson is a really powerful brand. People tattoo their logos on their bodies, and that is amazing brand affinity. [In comparison, there aren’t that many Apple logos tattooed on our bodies.]
  • Money and opportunity are not extraordinary assets. I think raising money doesn’t mean anything in terms of success. Extraordinary assets are having attention, or exceptional people in your organization.
  • Risk is not a four letter word — risk and innovation are closely tied and when you do things for the first time, it is very risky. Avoiding risk is the riskiest thing you can do. Design and risk go hand in hand and if you eliminate the risk, you will do whatever everyone is doing.
  • (For Beats) the product & the brand is the celebrity . That was the genius of Jimmy Iovine.
  • Hiring Diane van Furstenberg to design your product isn’t fashion. Fashion is the tribe you belong to or you aspire to belong to. Google Glass isn’t the tribe you aspire to belong to. (In comparison, Beats by Dre was a tribe a lot of people wanted to be associated with and thus those products are fashionable.)

Brunner also spoke at my Roadmap conference last year. His video from the event is available here

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